Giant Hogweed Burns Virginia Teen: 'The Skin on His Face Was Basically Peeling Away'


"It’s a traumatic experience, but Alex is a tough kid," the teen's father said.

A Virginia teenager sustained third-degree burns after coming into contact with sap from a giant hogweed plant.

When Alex Childress, 17, of Spotsylvania initially felt intense pain on his face while working as a landscaper, he assumed he'd gotten sunburned, according to WTVR.

But by the end of the day, his condition had worsened, his father, Justin Childress, told WTVR.

"When he got home, he got into the shower and the skin on his face was basically peeling away and peeling off," Justin said.

Giant hogweed is a dangerous and invasive weed. Toxic chemicals in its sap are capable of causing burns. When these chemicals touch human skin, they can make it extra sensitive to sunlight, leading to painful blisters and possibly scarring. If the chemicals get into a person's eye, they can cause blindness.

Alex was treated at the Burn Center at VCU Medical Center after his mother, a nurse, saw the wounds and diagnosed them as second- to third-degree burns, WTVR reported. 

"It’s a traumatic experience, but Alex is a tough kid," Justin said. "I just don’t say it because he’s my kid, but he’s one of the toughest kids that I've ever seen."

The family said they hope others can learn from Alex's experience.